The African Entrepreneur in 2050: Perspectives & Scenarios (Part 1)

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Why 2050?

Sustainable development goals set out a clear development agenda for the world for the next 15 years until 2030. Discussing the future in 2050, which is about three and half decades away might therefore seem to be farfetched. Personally I have lived on this earth for less than three decades since I was born, and a lot have happened in my life; tremendous changes – most of which were random and unexpected. It therefore beats logic to plan for so many years ahead when the only certain thing in the future is its uncertainty.

This however does not negate the need to plan. As it is commonly known, failing to plan is planning to fail. The case for entrepreneurship in Africa is no exception in this planning agenda; hence we are allowed to immerse ourselves into the deep faculties of our creative imaginations and paint the picture of the future of entrepreneurship in Africa. Our outcome picture of the future will definitely be based on all possible scenarios of the future, that will be catalyzed by current and projected social, economic & political trends across the continent.

Planning for our future is a necessity and not an option. How far into the future we should create scenarios for is a debate that is out there for the jury.  In my opinion however, we should be able to plan for the future for as long as our imaginative, creative and innovative minds allow us. There should be no limits to how much we can dream and think about a future we might not even live to see. It is out of these dreams of the future that visionaries in the past influenced the current world we are living in; including both the good and bad things it has to offer. Yes we may have tampered with and changed their dreams, but at least we had a template to work with and customize to fit into our dynamic everyday context. We should therefore not deny our posterity the same privilege of having a template to play around with when their time comes.

Africa Rising narrative

The proverbial Africa Rising narrative is repeated more often today than a decade ago; and there are many good reasons for that. Africa as a continent is still at the developing stage; and with its young and budding economies, investors have myriad opportunities to invest in and grow their wealth. The capital flow to Africa though significantly lower as measured through comparative foreign direct investments; the growing trend is a sign of a rising appetite for the investment opportunities that the continent has to offer.   However, even as there are sure signs of a growing continent, the big question still remains: Africa is rising for whom?

In the past two decades Africa’s growth has been fueled by commodity exports including raw agricultural products, oil and gold among other minerals. However, these commodity exports did not succeed in creating equitable wealth distribution among the citizens of the countries that benefited from the exports. Instead, we had the rise of oligarchs who were power brokers between the local African governments and the Western investors. This class of elite economic pirates across the continent sabotaged our economies by enriching themselves at the expense of the tax payers; majority of who were left to languish in poverty at the bottom of the pyramid. With the commodity boom cooling off, and the mafia having taken control of our economies, new wealth creation and economic development strategies are needed in order to propel Africa into a developed economy status; while leaving no one behind.

We are at a very critical time in the history of Africa and our generation of young visionaries will be judged by how we manage this transition process. The long-term future of Africa is being defined in the next decade and the faces at the fore front of shaping the development agenda for Africa are changing. During this transition period, old guards will be retired and new young, energetic and zealous leaders will emerge to deliver the continent to a full development status. At the center of the economic changes taking place in Africa is the entrepreneurship revolution that has created an unstoppable wave across the continent in magnitudes never experienced before.

To define the future of Africa, we must define the future of entrepreneurship in the continent. We must define how wealth will be created, and how our available resources across the continent will be utilized for the benefit of the masses; and not exploited for the enrichment of the old guards and their new breed of youthful cartels. Africa is rising, and the only way to ensure that it rises for all its citizens is to make sure that the citizens are economically empowered. The old adage summarizes the golden rule very well: he who has the gold makes the rules. If the citizens in African countries are to be empowered enough to chart their own social, political & economic paths into the future, then we must equip them with “gold”. Gifts and donations are not sustainable; if anything, they are used to coerce the recipient to submit to the demands of the donor. What Africa needs is real economic empowerment; which can only be achieved through supporting the growth of entrepreneurship across the continent.

Just like Rome was not built in a day, the process will take time. It might not be in a decade or two, even three decades might not be enough; but someday the dream of a prosperous and peaceful Africa will be achieved. Aluta continua!

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